Minnesota State Mankato, the top-ranked team in Division II, scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes to rally for a 27-23 victory over No. 13-ranked Sioux Falls, on Saturday on the Cougars' field.
The victory completed an unbeaten regular-season for the Mavericks (11-0, 7-0 NSIC South) and gave the Mavericks the outright NSIC championship. The 28-team Division II playoff field will be announced on Sunday at 4 p.m. on www.ncaa.com.
Sioux Falls (9-2, 5-2) led 20-13 after three quarters and extended its lead to 23-13 with 7 minutes, 39 seconds remaining on a 32-yard field goal by Stuart Vanden Huevel.
The Mavericks responded with an 81-yard drive — highlighted by Ryan Schlichte's 61-yard touchdown pass to Shane Zylstra — in just 2:15 to pull within 23-19. Casey Bednarski's PAT made it 23-20.
After an exchange of possessions, the Cougars took over at their own 41-yard line. But the Mavericks forced the Cougars into a punting situation and the Mavericks' Lukas Burrington recovered a botched snap at the Cougars' 29 with 1:39 remaining. Four plays later Schlichte and Zylstra teamed up on a 10-yard TD pass.
The Mavericks' Jack Curtis sealed the victory with an interception. The unbeaten regular-season is the Mavericks' fourth in the past six seasons.
Minn. Duluth 63, Mary 27: Eight players — including three defensive players — scored touchdowns as the Bulldogs cruised to the victory over the host Marauders in Bismarck, N.D. It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Bulldogs (9-2, 7-0), who won their 10th consecutive NSIC North title. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 8 in the Super Region Four rankings last week. The top seven teams from four Super Regions advance to the playoffs.
Concordia (St. Paul) 37, SW Minnesota State 20: Shaq Johnson rushed for 175 yards and two TDs and threw a TD pass to lead the host Golden Bears (2-9, 1-6 NSIC South) past the Mustangs. Johnson's 80-yard TD run in the final minute of the first quarter gave the Golden Bears the lead for good at 9-7. Early in the second quarter, Johnson teamed with Gabe Steed on a 63-yard TD pass to extend the Mustangs' lead to 16-7. Johnson capped his day with a 1-yard TD run with 2:41 remaining. Boyer Bouman passed for 316 yards and a TD for the Mustangs (2-8, 0-7).
Northern State 62, Minn.-Crookston 20: Nicholas Truen, of White Bear Lake, rushed for 252 yards and five TDs to lead the visiting Wolves to the victory. Hunter Trautman, from St. Francis, threw for 215 yards and three TDs for the Wolves (6-5, 5-2 NSIC North).
Bemidji State 45, MSU Moorhead 14: Jordan Hein passed for 245 yards and three TDs to lead the Beavers (8-3, 6-1 NSIC North) past the host Dragons.
Minot State 23, St. Cloud State 13: Kiante Goudeau returned two interceptions for touchdowns to spark the Beavers past the host Huskies. Goudeau's 30-yard interception return gave the Beavers (3-8, 3-4 NSIC North) a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. His 45-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter made it 22-7. Curtwan Evans rushed for 97 yards and a TD for the Huskies (6-5, 3-4).
Illinois College 32, Macalester 27: Christian Adams passed for 348 yards and three TDs for Macalester, but the Scots (5-5, 3-3 Midwest North) lost in Jacksonville, Ill.